The art of a proper nap

The art of a proper nap

Getting adequate sleep – that’s seven to eight hours a night for most adults – is critical for proper functioning.

Sleep deprivation can cause multiple health issues – both short-term and long-term – and can eventually put you at greater risk for a heart attack, stroke, weight gain and perhaps even Alzheimer’s Disease.

But in our busy lives, this much sleep can often seem unattainable. If you are not getting enough sleep each night, can an occasional nap benefit your health?

“I advise a short nap of 10-20 minutes to improve alertness, performance, mood and to help alleviate fatigue,” says Dr. Olusegun Apata, a pulmonologist, critical care physician and sleep specialist with Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “If you can take this time for yourself, ideally in a comfortable, somewhat dark and quiet area, it can really help you get through the rest of your day, be more safe and increase your productivity.”

He does caution against a couple of common napping errors:

  • If you take a longer nap, usually 30 minutes or more, you run the risk of sleep inertia, which is the feeling of grogginess and disorientation that happens if your “quick” doze takes you to a deep sleep.
  • For many people, napping, especially too close to bedtime, may hamper their ability to fall asleep or stay asleep overnight. Try not to nap within four to six hours of bedtime.

“However, a nap will not make up for regular lack of sleep,” says Dr. Apata. “Sleep is vitally important, so you need to make it a priority. Without it, your brain will not function properly, and you are putting your health in jeopardy.”

If you feel tired and sleepy during the day despite getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night, Dr. Apata recommends making an appointment with your physician. He or she may recommend a sleep study to see if you are getting quality sleep or if you have an underlying health issue that is affecting your slumber.

Want to learn more about your risk for sleep apnea? Take a short online quiz.

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  1. Richard Zwiesler January 15, 2020 at 3:27 pm · Reply

    I have noticed that most of your comments and cures are for the younger generation. I just turned 90 in September 2019. I try to take a nap everyday but may miss one or more in a weeks time. My naps run about one hour and I do feel rather refreshed by them. I just cannot see how a 10 to 20 Minuit nap can be of any value. I wear hearing aids and have to remove them when napping and I cannot hear any alarm without them.

  2. I feel that any napping articles are directed to people that can fall asleep right away. A 10 or 20 minute nap is unrealistic if it takes 20 minutes just to fall asleep, no matter how tired a person might be!

  3. I agree with some of the previous comments. It depends on age. I understand that the older you are the less sleep required per night. (6-7 hours) Also, hard to nap for 20 mins, more like an hour.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.